Why should companies adopt entrepreneurial millennials

5 tips for more sustainability in the company

The topic of environmental protection is becoming increasingly important to young talents when choosing a job. In order to keep up, companies need the right strategy.

Today, for the first time, companies are in a position to have a decisive influence on socially sustainable action. The increasing responsibility towards our environment is playing an increasingly important role. Contrary to what many assume, assuming this responsibility does not stand in the way of corporate interests - on the contrary. According to the Deloitte Millennial Survey 2018 Protecting the environment is one of the top five goals that companies should advocate, if the vision of the growing workforce has its way. And because this new generation is estimated to make up over a third of the world's workforce by 2020, sustainability is no longer just “a good thing” but will have a significant impact on attracting talent and promoting a modern corporate culture.

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The green corporate culture

Few factors within a company contribute more to business success than its own culture, manifested in values, behavior and the setting of priorities that shape the way employees work. Whether corporate values ​​are really lived depends on whether employees identify with the company's culture and actively help to shape it.

The culture of many well-known employers such as Salesforce or Microsoft is now shaped by extensive volunteer programs that enable employees to give their daily tasks a higher meaning and to get involved in topics that are personally important to them. These examples show: Sustainability should be firmly anchored in the corporate culture and be comprehensively reflected in everyday work. Starting with the corporate mission, through furnishing the office space and the operational business, to social team engagement.

But how do companies manage to establish a sustainable work culture in practice? Here are five tips for businesses:

1. Understand your own ecological footprint

If you want to reduce the impact on the environment as a company, you should first develop an understanding of what the current ecological footprint is made up of. This includes a clear understanding of current energy consumption, waste management, food and drink deliveries, office management, logistics processes, etc. Employee mobility also plays a role - which means of transport are used for commuting, how often do employees fly to business meetings and so on . Realistic goals can only be planned with this know-how. The findings can be shocking: electricity, heating and air conditioning usually make up more than 75 percent of the energy consumption of a commercial building, with around a third of this energy being wasted.

2. Anchoring ambitious goals in the corporate mission

In order to pass into the culture, sustainable action should be integrated into the corporate mission and thus into the core business. There are already numerous initiatives that bundle sustainable goals, for example the RE100, a global association of companies that are committed to switching to 100 percent renewable energies. For maximum engagement, employees should be involved in setting goals - be it in the form of focus groups, surveys or open calls for suggestions. Corresponding goals could be, for example, to completely ban plastic from the office, achieve climate-neutral mobility or only work with logistics partners who guarantee a socially sustainable supply chain. The higher the topic is in the company agenda, the easier it is to prioritize and implement the goals.

3. Measure progress and celebrate with the team

The momentum of the “Mission Sustainability” is fostered by sharing regular updates with employees that encourage further engagement. How much disposable packaging has been saved since the kitchen switched to glass containers, by how many percent have emissions been reduced since the team has been using job tickets for local transport, how much water, CO2 and animals have been saved since the company caterings are vegetarian? Celebrating regularly what you have achieved together motivates you to initiate further changes.

4. Increase the circle of influence

In order to expand the scope of their own initiative, companies can, if possible, also oblige service providers to act in a more environmentally conscious manner. Why not, for example, recycle coffee beans together, set up training programs to promote environmentally conscious talents or support local education programs? There are already numerous companies and initiatives that have developed smart recycling processes. For example, the Berlin startup Kaffeeform, which presses sustainable cups from used coffee grounds.

5. Question the status quo

Companies should not be afraid to regularly reassess their previous processes in the light of a more sustainable future. What is the best sustainable business practice according to what we learned in 2019 may already be obsolete in 2020. Your own team should be encouraged to regularly question ideas relating to the topic of sustainability. But thinking outside the box can also help to find an answer to the question: What can we possibly learn from other companies?

One thing is clear: there is a lot to be done. For maximum commitment, every company should consider which sustainability measures it assigns the highest priority. If companies firmly anchor this in their corporate structure and take their employees with them, they not only ensure that they are more competitive, more profitable and more innovative in the long term. At the same time, they are even more interesting for young talents and help protect our planet.